For those of you out there who have having your custom deck designed and installed, the one question in your head may be, “Where do I start?” Since most of us are not professional deck contractors, we would be at a loss as to where to begin with our deck design. Do we look at materials first? Do we look at layout first? Or, do we perhaps look at both at the same time? Well, fret not, because we are here to help and guide you through the entire process.
Step 1: Make Sure That You Are Actually Allowed to Build Your Custom Deck
Some buildings and local building codes do not permit any additions to properties. To avoid disappointment, read up in advance on any legal proceedings you need to complete to obtain a permit to begin the construction of an addition to your property before you start planning out your custom deck. Also, do take note that your deck design must comply with your local building codes.
Step 2: The Style of Your Custom Deck
As any deck contractor knows, the very first step in deck design involves, choosing what style you would like your custom deck to be. This depends not only on your preference, but also on the style of your home. You wouldn’t want to have a rustic style deck with a modern style house, or vice versa.
The following are some popular styles you may want to consider for your custom deck:
- Colonial – A colonial style custom deck borrows elements of classical architecture. A typical look would be having white molded railings, with the rail posts topped with decorative post caps. Colonial style custom decks are also often lined with accent features such as benches, planter boxes and sometimes even pergolas.
- Contemporary – Contemporary style custom decks usually have one rule – less is more. As with most contemporary style designs, contemporary style custom decks are usually sleek and minimalistic. Deck contractors go for a sparse, modern design with clean lines and basic shapes. This makes the custom deck not only aesthetically pleasing, but also easy to clean.
- Traditional – Traditional style custom decks usually resemble the traditional image of cottages out in the country. Traditional style custom decks normally employ the use of shapes such as octagons with chamfered corners to give the custom deck a ‘warmer’ feel, with softened sharp corners. To give a more ‘traditional’ feel, routered rail caps and trim moldings are often used, coupled with decorative post caps for rail posts.
- Coastal – Especially for those who live by the sea, a coastal style custom deck can work wonders for opening up your view. With glass and cable rails, coupled with white railings to give a pristine, ‘coastal style’, the coastal style custom deck is perfect for blending into the landscape.
Step 3: Materials for Your Custom Deck
After deciding on the style of your custom deck, the next thing you want to do is to decide on the specific design of your custom deck. Decide how exactly you want your custom deck to look. This includes not only the shape and the size of the custom deck, but also the materials that you are going to use in your custom deck.
Choosing materials can be a confusing time for those of us who are not deck contractors or deck builders. There are just too many available materials for us to choose from! Of course, your choice of style has already limited the range of materials you are going to choose from. For instance, if you want a traditional style custom deck, you should use redwood or cedar, which both have a beautiful warm look that gives your deck a warm and rustic feel.
But even if you have already decided on a particular type of wood, let’s say, cedar decking, you still need to decide which grade of cedar decking you are going to purchase.
This is where your budget comes in: do you want to choose a higher grade of cedar decking, which will definitely cost you a significantly larger amount of money or do you want to choose a lower grade of cedar decking, which will not burn as big a hole in your pocket? Of course, a higher grade of cedar decking looks better and is more durable, but you need to weigh the pros and cons. Is it really worth it?
If price is an issue, but you are worried about investing in a lower grade of decking only to have it spoil after a few years, hunt around for deck builders or deck contractors who provide you with warranties. Do take note of any specific factors or issues that may void the warranty as well.
Also, ensure that you apply a coat of finish to your custom deck after the deck builders have completed it. Do engage a professional deck contractor or deck builder for this, as applying finishing is a delicate process; a slip of the hand could cause your deck to have an uneven and unsightly appearance. Also, different types of finish are better suited for different climates. Do engage the help of a professional deck contractor to discuss what type of finish is ideal for your particular climate.
Step 4: Other Features and Issues You Should Consider
You should also consider adding lighting to your custom deck so that you can enjoy a relaxing evening outside without getting lost in the pitch dark. There is a whole range of lighting options to match different deck styles. For instance, a warm yellow light would be perfect for a traditional style custom deck. Also, a drainage system can be added to drain excess water, especially after a storm. This will help to maintain the condition of your deck floor.
The following are some other factors you might want to take note of when coming up with your deck design:
- Potential Locations For Your Custom Deck – do consider issues of property and privacy when deciding on a location for your custom deck, especially if you are intending to install a hot tub on your custom deck!
- Another important factor to take note of is that if built in certain locations, your custom deck will show signs rapid of wear and tear due to a high amount of exposure to damaging elements of nature, such as direct sunlight (specifically, ultra violet rays), rain, strong winds, and insects that attack wood. To prevent damage, consider using more durable materials (for instance, if you live by the sea, you can consider using low maintenance materials such as composites and PVC materials, which can easily withstand the strong winds).